How to Select the Best Pharmacy Technician School Near Alabaster Alabama
Now that you have decided to attain your pharmacy tech degree or certificate near AlabasterAL, you may be wondering how to choose the best program to receive your education and training. Of course the first step is to locate schools that offer the degree or diploma that you would like to earn. Many potential students begin by searching for colleges that are within driving distance of their home, and then comparing the tuitions. While tuition and location are critical concerns when deciding on a school, they are not the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into account as well. And if you are interested in attending classes in your home in front of your computer as opposed to in a classroom, then finding an accredited online school will also be included in your vetting process. We will cover these qualifications and others that you will need to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But to begin with, let's discuss what a pharmacy technician does, the diploma and degree options available, and the advantages of online courses.
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The Job of Pharmacy Technicians
Pharmacy techs have numerous job responsibilities, but their main duty is to dispense prescription medicines. Because they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must perform under the supervision of a licensed Alabaster AL pharmacist. They must also have good customer service abilities since they will be working directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be accurate when filling prescription drugs per the pharmacist's directions. And they must have a comprehensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology in order that they may help customers with understanding instructions for their medications in addition to other pharmaceutical literature and information. On the other hand, under no situation should they ever offer medical advice pertaining to prescriptions or anything else. All such questions would be addressed by the pharmacist. Several of the regular daily tasks a pharmacy technician may perform are:
- Greet and help customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Prepare prescription drugs under pharmacist guidance
- Add prescription and customer data into pharmacy computer system
- Phone customers when their prescriptions are ready for pick-up
- Fill out and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and audit and control inventory
Due to the nature of their profession, pharmacy techs will spend most of their working day on their feet. And working weekends and evenings is also typical, especially for newer technicians with lower seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or occasionally being required to work off-hours is a very gratifying career helping customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Technician Degrees and Certificates
Students desiring to enroll in a pharmacy technician program are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are generally two alternatives to training to be a tech whether you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to earn a diploma or a certificate, which normally can be finished in a year or less. These programs offer an introduction to the various facets of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and generally include lab and classroom training. Numerous programs also require an internship at an accepted Alabaster AL pharmacy or other facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which generally requires about 2 years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does furnish a more comprehensive education and can lead to more advanced positions or education in the future. Either program should provide the necessary level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate choose to become certified.
Pharmacist Technician Certifications Offered
It is not required to earn certification in every state, but numerous graduates of pharmacy tech schools elect to become certified so as to be more qualified in the job market. Additionally, many Alabaster AL employers will only hire a technician that has earned certification. There are 2 organizations that provide certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
The NHA requirements are that the applicant be at least 18 years old, be a high school graduate, has finished a training program, and has one or more years of professional experience. The PTCB just requires that the applicant has graduated high school and passes their examination. Recertification is required every 2 years by each program, which may be fulfilled by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Technician Colleges Online
Before choosing a pharmacy tech online training program, it's important to realize that the majority of schools do require that a substantial part of the training be conducted in a clinical environment. This is usually fulfilled in an area Alabaster pharmacy or hospital through an internship program. Students in most cases will have the benefit of working under an experienced pharmacy tech in order to get some work place experience. However the balance or non-clinical training may be taken over the internet in your Alabaster AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more accommodating for most students, especially for those who keep working while acquiring their certificate or degree. And online schools are often less expensive than classroom options. Tuition and expenditures for commuting and study materials can be decreased significantly. With both the online and the clinical training, a comprehensive education is offered. But not all online colleges are accredited, which is important for securing employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So check that each online school you are reviewing is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to learn with a less structured form of education, then online classes might be the best choice for you.
Questions to Ask Pharmacy Technician Schools
After you have determined whether you want to attain a certificate or degree, and if you prefer to enroll in an online program or attend classes on campus, you can start to target your school alternatives. There are many pharmacy tech colleges to choose from in the Alabaster AL area and throughout the Country, so you need to create a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast community colleges and vocational schools. As we discussed in our introduction, you will most likely first start looking for colleges that are within both your financial resources and commuting distance from your Alabaster residence. If you are willing to relocate or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech college, then location may not be important. But there are many other issues that you should take into consideration in order to properly compare schools. The questions below will assist you in gathering that information and help you to make your final selection.
Is the Pharmacist Technician School Accredited? The majority of pharmacist tech colleges and trade schools have acquired a national or regional accreditation. Among the most respected accrediting organizations is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Programs earning accreditation from the ASHP have been evaluated and verified to offer a comprehensive quality education. Online schools may additionally earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals exclusively with distance or online education. Be sure to check that the degree or certificate program in addition to the school you choose are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting agency. In addition to helping ensure that you receive a quality education, it can assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Also, certification may require that the program of training is accredited. And many Alabaster AL employers will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the College Ready You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in all states, but numerous pharmacies desire that the technicians they hire are certified. The pharmacist technician school needs to prep its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA exam. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will additionally need one year of professional experience. This qualification can be fulfilled by taking part in a school sponsored internship program.
Does the School Sponsor Internship Programs? As we previously discussed, the NHA mandates a year of job experience for certification, which can be met through an internship program. One of the best ways to obtain hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy technician degree or certificate programs also require practical training prior to graduation and an internship is a great way to fulfill the requirement. Ask if the programs have a working relationship with Alabaster Alabama area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the College Offer Job Placement Assistance? Finding that initial position in Alabaster AL upon graduation, especially with no professional experience, can be a daunting endeavor without some assistance. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indicator that the college has an excellent reputation within the profession creating demand for its graduates. It also signifies that it has a large network of pharmacy contacts where it can place graduating students.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the college they pick will need to be within commuting distance of their Alabaster AL home. Those who have decided to attend classes online obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. One thing to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are considering what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacist technician program as well.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the pharmacist tech college you ultimately select can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Alabaster AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Find the Best Alabaster Pharmacy Technician School
Finding the right pharmacy technician training is an important first step to beginning your career in a gratifying occupation where assisting people with their health is your purpose. Traditionally, most pharmacist technicians were trained "on the job". These days, most pharmacies can no longer afford to do this and much prefer to hire formally trained technicians. Training is offered by vocational and trade schools, technical colleges as well as community colleges. Many pharmacy technician programs incorporate both laboratory and classroom training. As we have discussed in this article, it's essential to select a program that is accredited and will ready you for certification. This applies both for online classes and for those attended on campus. If you follow our additional tips you will be able to compare colleges so that you are certain to make the ideal choice. With the appropriate training and determination you can achieve your goal of becoming a pharmacist tech in Alabaster Alabama.